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Commissioning Exterior Enclosures New guidelines from the National Institute of Building Sciences detail rigorous process b y W a g d y A n i s , FAIA
Adapted with permission from the National Institute of Building Sciences/Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council, this article originally appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Journal of Building Enclosure Design. The commissioning process is a qualit yoriented process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meets defined objectives and criteria. It assumes that owners, programmers, designers, contractors, commissioning team members, and operations and maintenance entities are fully accountable for the quality of their work. The process uses methods and tools to verify that the project is achieving the owner’s requirements throughout the delivery of the project. Beginning at project inception (during the predesign phase), commissioning continues for the life of the facility (through the occupancy and operations phase) and includes specific tasks to be conducted during each phase in order to verify that design, construction, and training meet the owner’s project requirements. The National Institute of Building Sciences’ 2006 Guideline 3, Exterior Enclosure Technical Requirements For the Commissioning Process is a new guide that focuses on the implementation of this process to building exterior enclosure systems and describes the specific tasks necessary to that implementation. It can be applied to both new construction and renovation projects. The commissioning process structures the design and construction process to increase quality. It does not require the owner to employ a specific outside expert as the commissioning authority and nothing would prevent the owner from selecting the project design or construction firm to perform commissioning, if the commissioning authority is properly qualified and is sufficiently independent by being positioned outside the specific project team within the firm. For a given project, the commissioning role might be performed by a number of players—
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owner, program manager, construction manager, third-party commissioning authority hired by the owner, LEED-required commissioning authority, general contractor, the MEP contractor, etc. For a project, each player will have a mixed set of characteristics, including independence, expertise, and project-related knowledge. Whoever hires the commissioning authority is doing so in order to provide the project with an independent set of eyes that verify and assure the required performance of the building. This required performance should be defined and found in the project documents and specifications. The level of effort of the commissioning process and size of the commissioning team for a given building can be strongly influenced by such factors as the owner’s preferred level of building quality, the level of risk the owner will accept, as well as building size, type, and complexity.
Total Building Commissioning The Total Building Commissioning series of guidelines is a family of guidelines following
ASHRAE Guideline O’s recommended structure. Guideline 3 2006 describes the technical requirements for the application of the commissioning process in ASHRAE Guideline O-2005 that verifies the building exterior enclosure systems achieve the owner’s project requirements. It includes requirements for: • exterior enclosure systems to fully support the commissioning process activities; • verification during each phase of the commissioning process; • acceptance during each phase; • documentation during each phase; and • a systems manual and training for operations and maintenance personnel and occupants. The primary focus is on new buildings. The procedures, methods, and documentation requirements apply to new construction and to on-going commissioning process activities or requirements of buildings and facilities, or portions thereof. They also can be applied to rehabilitation projects, retro-commissioning, or re-commissioning projects.
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